Redemption is an important word to add to your current vocabulary and an even more important concept to allow in your consciousness. Follow me below the fold for a story of a man, an ordinary human being in so many ways, possessing so many of the same flaws as the rest of our species.  

This ordinary man was born to an extraordinary and driven family Feb. 22, 1932. The youngest of the nine Kennedy children Ted grew up in the shadow of his older bothers. He also grew up in a family of over achievers, altho expectations for Ted were few, the biggest and grandest plans reserved for his bothers. I mention this because while at Harvard and for whatever reason Ted found a very smart friend to take his Spanish exam for him and was expelled for cheating. He enlisted and spent an two  undistinguished years in the Army. He did however allow his father’s influence gain him a cushy position as a guard to SHAPE in Paris.  Eventually he returned to Harvard and graduated in 1956.

He graduated from law school with a degree in International Law, passed the bar and ran his brother Jack’s reelection campaign in 1958 which was his first real job. He married a beautiful young woman, Virginia Joan Kennedy and had three children.  Those years were rife with rumors and sadder facts of Joan’s alcoholism and Ted’s womanizing.

When Jack was elected President his Senate seat was vacant. Ted was not yet 30 and not eligible to fill the seat until his birthday Feb. 22, 1962.  Jack Kennedy asked a favor of then Governor of Massachusetts  Foster Furcolo, to name a family friend to fill his term leaving it open for Teddy. During the campaign he was accused of having insufficient experience to be a Senator, of using the family name to get the seat. In 1962 a special election was held and Ted won his bothers old seat and two years later the full 6 year term in a virtual landslide. A seat he continues to hold with amazing popular margins that have never dropped below 58% .

Massachusetts United States Senate special election, 1962[2]:

Ted Kennedy (D) – 1,162,611 (52.92%)

George Cabot Lodge (R) – 977,668 (44.50%)

United States Senate election in Massachusetts, 1964[3]:

Ted Kennedy (D) (inc.) – 1,716,907 (74.26%)

Howard J. Whitmore, Jr. (R) – 587,663 (25.42%)

His bother Jack was assassinated in 1963 just as Teddy was entering the Senate for the first time. From his own site is a compilation of his early Senate history.


Edward M. Kennedy is elected to the United States Senate.


Senator Kennedy made his maiden speech on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was signed on July 2, 1964, and the Senator strongly supported the Economic Opportunity Act, which was signed on August 20, 1964. The EOA stated that programs would be “developed, conducted and administered with the maximum feasible participation and the residents of the areas and members of the groups served.” It also established community action programs, including ABCD, to mobilize resources that could be used in a direct attack on the roots of poverty


Senator Kennedy won passage of a bill establishing a National Teacher Corps, which awarded scholarships to young individuals willing to supplement their normal course of study with education courses. Participants agreed that, after graduating, they would teach for at least two years in economically-distressed rural and urban areas.


Senator Kennedy, through an amendment to the Economic Opportunity Act, created a national health center system. In1966, the nation’s first comprehensive neighborhood health center was established by Tufts University in cooperation with ABCD at the Columbia Point Housing Project in Dorchester.


As a result of Senator Kennedy’s championing of bilingual education, the Bilingual Education Act of 1968 was passed by Congress. The Act mandated schools to provide bilingual education programs, which was the first time Congress had endorsed funding for bilingual education. The Bilingual Program, a federally funded program through Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education act, was updated with the Improving American’s Schools Act of 1994

When Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, the wastrel son, the son with the troubled personal life became the ONLY son. Every hope and dream lost with the deaths of his three brothers became Ted’s to own, to carry and deliver upon. While he was doing some things in the Senate he wasn’t a mover and shaker, he wasn’t putting the energy needed into the job. He wasn’t aggressively working for change, he was following rather than leading. He was elected Majority Whip in 1969 and wasn’t memorable for the two years he held the job.

But 1969 was also the culmination of every horror and tragedy that marked Ted Kennedy’s personal life to date.

On July 18, 1969, Ted Kennedy attended a party on Chappaquiddick, a small island adjoining Martha’s Vineyard and connected to it via a ferry. The party was a reunion for a group of six women, known as the “boiler-room girls”,  who had served in his brother Robert’s 1968 presidential campaign. Also present were Joseph Gargan (Ted Kennedy’s cousin), Paul Markham (a school friend of Gargan’s who would become United States Attorney for Massachusetts under the patronage of the Kennedys), Charles Tretter (an attorney), and John Crimmins (Ted Kennedy’s part-time driver). Kennedy was also competing in the Edgartown Yacht Club Regatta, a sailing competition which was taking place over several days.

The Chappaquiddick incident refers to the circumstances surrounding the 1969 death of Mary Jo Kopechne, a former staff member in Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign. Edward Kennedy was driving a car with Kopechne as his passenger when the Senator drove off Dike Bridge into the channel between Chappaquiddick Island and Martha’s Vineyard. The Senator swam to safety, but Kopechne died in the car. Kennedy left the scene and did not call authorities until after Kopechne’s body was discovered the following day.

Two amateur fishermen had seen the overturned car in the water and notified the inhabitants of the nearest cottage to the pond, who called the authorities at around 8:20 am. A diver was sent down and discovered Kopechne’s body at around 8:45 am. The diver, John Farrar, later testified at the inquest that Kopechne’s body was pressed up in the car in the spot where an air bubble would have formed. He interpreted this to mean that Kopechne had survived for a while after the initial accident in the air bubble, and concluded that “Had I received a call within five to ten minutes of the accident occurring, and was able, as I was the following morning, to be at the victim’s side within twenty-five minutes of receiving the call, in such event there is a strong possibility that she would have been alive on removal from the submerged car.

Ted Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and was sentenced to two months in jail, suspended.

In January 1970, an inquest into Kopechne’s death took place in Edgartown. At the request of Kennedy’s lawyers, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ordered the inquest be conducted in secret. Judge James A. Boyle presided over the inquest. His conclusions were as follows:

“Kopechne and Kennedy did not intend to return to Edgartown” at the time they left the party.

“Kennedy did not intend to drive to the ferry slip”.

“[Kennedy]’s turn onto Dike Road was intentional”.

Judge Boyle also said that “negligent driving appears to have contributed to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne”.

Under Massachusetts law Boyle could have ordered Kennedy’s arrest, but he chose not to do so.  District Attorney Dinis chose not to pursue Kennedy for manslaughter, despite Judge Boyle’s conclusions.

Those are the cold facts of the case, the cold facts of a careless thoughtless young man and how his actions cost the life of a young woman. There is no way to soften it, even if you believe as virtually no one does that he was disoriented, not drunk and didn’t wait costing Mary Jo Kopechne’s life so any blood alcohol test would be negative, there is no way to soften the facts of the case. There is no way to soften his conviction of leaving the scene of an accident and his 2 month suspended sentence that should have been a manslaughter charge and jail time.

These facts and rumors, innuendos and hateful whispers have dogged him every one of the more than 14,000 days since that night. By all accounts even Ted Kennedy’s political career should have been over. But it wasn’t, regardless of public opinion some how inside the same selfish thoughtless young man was a man of extraordinary generosity and compassion, Ted Kennedy found this better self. Over the next few years he parlayed his subcommittee positions into chairmanships. He started actively championing liberal ideas and fighting for the little guy, us. Fighting during the 80’s and the twilight of liberal ideas in Congress. He became the mover and shaker, the lion of the Senate and perhaps the finest Senator of the last 100 years.

You can refresh your memory of his remarkable accomplishments on his own site. It reads as a laundry list of the single most important issues to average Americans, righting egregious lapses of government and a powerful message for social justice.

As you review his legislative legacy remember until Chappaquiddick Ted Kennedy had been considered the front runner for President, it cost him the nomination in 1972 and again in 1976. Ted Kennedy’s private life in many ways was a train wreck, an unhappy marriage, lapses in judgement, immature behavior and finally a crime so serious only God can forgive it.  And yet, his 45 year career in the Senate pushing liberal causes or more importantly humane and just causes has had a far greater impact on our lives than another Kennedy Presidency might.

You all remember, how could anyone forget Robert Byrd’s  heart wrenching announcement of Ted Kennedy’s brain tumor or his joyful return to the Senate. Edward Kennedy is not only respected and admired by his colleagues and millions of citizens, he is genuinely loved.

He did it in spite of us. That’s right IN SPITE OF US. He represented even those who hated him, thought him a murderer with genuine humanity, in a grandly egalitarian way. So, all of you who would bail on a candidate who has “sinned”, villify them, crucify them bad mouth them at every turn, judge them. For those who forget the value and contribution of a human being is contained in the TOTALITY of their life, it doesn’t matter. If someone has something important to say and something important to do, they will do it in spite of you and we all will be better for it.  


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  1. Cross posted on KOS where they really need it!

  2. redeem himself.  He’s relatively young.

    But, as of today, he hasn’t.  As of today, he’s a lying SOB who got caught, lied, got caught again, lied and then came clean when the pics came out.  He was lying while he ran for President this time.  There’s no reason not to believe that he was pushing the progressive line ’cause he thought he could get away with it.

    So, redemption waits for JE.  The question is will he work for it?  Even more so, will the public make him work for it?

    • Viet71 on August 10, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    the “official” story of the Chappaquiddick incident.  A few:

    First, according to the official story, Teddy swam from Chappaquiddick to Martha’s vineyard the night of the crash (notice I don’t say “accident”).  No way he could have done it.  Too long, too many adverse currents for even first-class athletic swimmers.

    Second, Mary Jo Kopechne didn’t die from the crash.  She  survived the crash for some minutes and died from asphyxiation.  Why didn’t (couldn’t) the small and slight Mary Jo escape through the same open car window the much, much larger Teddy supposedly exited?

    Mary Jo DID NOT DRINK.  Yet a huge quantity of alcohol was found in her body.  WTF?

    E. Howard Hunt and Tony Ulasewitz (sp?) were both on Chappaquiddick Island (Hunt in disguise) at the time of the

    incident.  For purposes that have never been explained.

    Conclusion:  Teddy was assassinated politically.  He had to suck it up to eliminate very real threats against him and his children.

    Welcome to the 1960s.  Which haven’t gone away and are still playing out through characters including shrub I and II, Cheney, Rumsfeld.

    • Viet71 on August 10, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Your third paragraph strikes me as a jumble of disconnected thoughts.

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